Tuesday, April 13, 2010

for harry carney (11)

for harry carney
(1910 -1974)

yr baritone sax ploughed deeply
in problematic bottoms; anchored
the distinctive tonal blend defining
duke’s orchestral sound. a lodestone
pointing/pulling north, piercing an
elevated artistic vanguard, yr deep,
thick, reedy licorice resonance, a
blithe harmonic weaving hook lacing
warp & weft of sundry black & tan
emotive threads: funky growls, high
falutin mood swings, dicty wah-wah
glidings, cucumber cool exotica,
pulsing jungle heart murmurs &
primal galloping rhythms. but duke
gave u yr regular solo voice & u
answered yr solo calls with lower
register power & robesonesque élan,
steeped in playful dash, impetuous
ardor. yr forceful blowing & wavering
tone could take on even the searing,
melodic wizardry of johnny hodges;
yr circular breathing would let u hold
a note forever. u carried that band, like
u drove the duke from gig to gig, for
forty-five years. when the duke threw
off his mortal coil & left us, like the
faithful sideman & doppelganger that
u were, u threw yrs off too. if there is
a regular set in the hereafter where
jazz men occasionally gather to jam,
i’m sure that with yr sisyphusian
patience & persistence, u are driving
the duke still & taking yr eternal place
on his bandstand.

©Joseph McNair;2010

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